Monday, 23 October 2017

Coming soon... Crossing the Line

One result of reflecting on life and my cancer diagnosis over the last couple of months, is a desire to write an account of my days, starting with where I came from, the family I was born into.  I know I am not alone in wanting to do this at a time like this.  It may be vain, even presumptuous, but I am going to do it anyway.   I am going to publish it on my blog, a bit at a time.  Don’t worry, I don’t expect lots of people to read them.  I am doing this for me.

Part of wanting to do this comes from my personality.  I like to be ready for things.  I don’t like having things sprung upon me.  I remember a time in my teens when my friends organised a surprise party for me before I moved away.  For the first half hour, I was furious, because I had other plans for the evening!  So perhaps I am preparing for the possibility that one day, my life will flash before my eyes, and I don’t want any surprises! 

But I also want to do it because I am constantly in awe of the things that God has allowed me to experience in life.  I don’t even pretend to understand the verse in Psalm 139 that says, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book, before one of them came to be”, and like the Psalmist, I find myself echoing his words, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain”.  I am deeply grateful for the wonders He has shown me, and that no matter where I have been, or what I have been doing, I know God was there.

I have thought long and hard about what to call this series of blog posts.  “Confessions of a turbulent priest” came to mind, but my life can’t even hold a candle to Thomas Becket, the original ‘turbulent priest’.  I also thought of “A life less ordinary” but again, that has already been taken by someone who has moved mountains rather than my paltry molehills.

In the end, I am going to call it “Crossing the Line” inspired by a song by American Christian band, Superchick.  As I look back, my whole life has been about crossing lines, as were my parents’ lives.  Refusing to be pigeon-holed, refusing to be confined by ‘the norm’, refusing to back down when principle was involved.

As the song says,

‘Try to change the world, they'll think you're out of your mind Revolutions start when someone crosses the line’

Not that I have changed the world in any significant way, but I am proud to have played my small part alongside many others who have been determined to do the same. 

For me, this has been life in all its fullness. (John 10:10) and I thank God for the opportunity to live it.  The song has another lyric which I hold dear.

‘Everybody dies, but not everyone lives!’

Even though I am facing the prospect of a much shorter life than I had imagined, I am proud to say that I have definitely lived.  Despite my failings and inadequacies, I have seen and done things which still bring a smile to my face, or make me pause to reflect.  God has taken my rebellious personality and used it for His Glory and I am truly grateful.

The last thing which confirmed this for me were some of the kind comments which people wrote on my recent Facebook posts about having cancer.

 Sam wrote:

“In my mind’s eye, you're still in training at St Paul's, twenty plus years ago, breaking all the stereotypes of what a prospective vicar should look like as you revved your way to the services on a motorbike & donned in leather & Mel, again breaking stereotypes of what a vicars wife should be, as you walked down the aisle in a plum red wedding dress.

The pair of you have broke from convention times over & consequently have touched & spoken into so so many lives, who otherwise wouldn't have heard of this Jesus dude & all that He is & brings.”

And Charlene (who I have never met outside of Facebook) wrote:

“I was so disgusted with “God speak” of angry-call-themselves Christians, but treat whole groups despicably, when you became my Facebook friend and I felt like there was sanity again in Christendom for me.  And I felt like it was ok again to have a bit of faith - faith and trust in the power of prayer.” 

So thank you Sam, Charlene and so many others who have encouraged me and crossed the line with me over the years.


  1. Dear Benny, Thank you for this post. When I saw the title, I thought it might be based on Tennyson's poem "Crossing the bar" but the Superchick's lyrics might be more "you". Here's to living as fully as possible, it is what you have done and what you still do.

    1. Thanks Sue. I think you're right - Superchick are much more me than Tennyson!

      Holding you in my prayers too...

  2. I look forward to it with great interest old friend. You may not have changed the world but you have certainly changed many’s worlds, and for that, many of us can be thankful.

    1. Thanks Chris - I didn't realise this was from you until your comment on Grandad's blog. Thankful for you too.

  3. Benny, I just wanted to say that it was your series of posts on "Accepting Evangelicals" about how you became LGBT affirming that helped me to "cross the line" in that respect, and become an LGBT ally myself.

    1. Hi Iain. It is always humbling and very encouraging to hear of others Crossing the Line, and especially when I find I had something to do with it. Thank you. And thank you for being such a helpful and steadfast fellow ally since then.

  4. I’m following your blog as it was recommended to me by Carl a friend of yours. I too have cancer, a very rare form of lung cancer and am just about to start chemo tomorrow. I find your thoughts reflect some of mine even though I do not claim to be religious. They have made me think about setting up my own blog which I feel may be helpful both to me and my supporters. Val

    1. Hi Val.

      I'm sorry I haven't replied to this sooner. How is your chemo going? I have to confess that I am not looking forward to mine.

      Although you do not claim to be religious, I hope you will allow me to remember you in my prayers.

      And please let me know if you start a blog. I find writing with a purpose both cathartic and helps me reflect and find balance in the turmoil of my random thoughts.

      Every Blessing